Online University
10 Students 10 Questions 10 Answers

Cynthia Palmer

Cynthia Palmer
Occasionally, people are skeptical about the value of my degree program since it is all online. But whenever someone asks about it, I tell them that I love it. Ashford University provides me with all the resources I need to succeed and I am learning so much that I think it would be unfair for a school to discriminate against someone with an online degree.
Concentration
Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
Expected Graduation
2014
Total Time Enrolled
2 years
Age
44
  1. Are online schools just in it for the money?

    Some online schools are just trying to take your money, but there are several legitimate online schools that offer students a valuable education from quality teachers. But in order to find those good schools, you have to research your options carefully, which is what I did before I selected Ashford University.

    To make sure you choose a legitimate school, you need to check its reputation. Look to see that it is accredited so that you know you will get a degree that is actually worth something. You can usually find accreditation information on the school’s website. You should also make sure that the institution is well-established. You don’t want to go to a school that is only a few months old because it doesn’t have any credibility yet. I found out that Ashford University is an accredited school that has been in education since 1918, and that helped me to feel comfortable enrolling there.

    Another way to judge a school’s worth is to assess the kinds of resources that it provides for its students. Ashford University seems to care about helping its students succeed because it offers ways to help us study. For example, in each of our virtual classrooms, there is a portal called “Ask the Teacher” where we can post our questions. Usually, my questions are always answered within 24 hours. Alternately, we can email or call our professors directly. In addition to the human resources, like teachers, we also have use of an online library and writing center.

  2. What are the pros and cons of studying online?

    The biggest pro to online education is the convenience it affords me. At first, I considered studying on-campus, but with my work schedule that was impossible. I work 12-hour shifts with rotating days off, so it wasn’t an option to attend regular classes. But since I study online, I can do my schoolwork whenever I am available, even if that is at 6:00 a.m. or 11:30 at night. If it wasn’t for the flexibility of online education, I wouldn’t be in school at all right now.

    But the main con to online school is that you will never succeed if you do not have excellent time management skills. The deadlines are ever-present and inflexible, which means that you will have to motivate yourself to do your work whenever you have free time. That is particularly true if you are working while you go to school. There is simply zero room for procrastination, because if you are not dedicated to obtaining your degree, then you will miss your deadlines and waste your time.

  3. Can you actually learn anything while studying online?

    Yes, I have found it easier to learn by studying online than I had imagined before I started my program. My curriculum is designed to teach me about all the dimensions of early childhood education. It consists of classes about child development, like nutrition, physical education and methods for teaching young children. I also take classes related to social responsibility and school administration.

    A lot of my coursework is based on theory, but we learn practical skills too. For example, in my administration class, we have learned how to write a proposal as if we are opening up our own learning center. In fact, most of our homework comes in the form of writing papers like that simulated proposal. We also write discussion board posts several times each week. Finally, we have multiple-choice tests on occasion. But I don’t think the tests are very useful assessments of our learning because it would be easy to cheat by using your book since the tests are not monitored.

  4. How difficult is it to get a job with an online degree?

    I am not sure how an online degree will affect my job prospects. It seems like it is very difficult for teachers to get a job anywhere right now, whether their degrees are online or from a traditional school. I don’t know of anyone who has tried to get a job with credentials they earned online, since all of my peers are still in school, like me.

    Occasionally, people are skeptical about the value of my degree program since it is all online. But whenever someone asks about it, I tell them that I love it. Ashford University provides me with all the resources I need to succeed and I am learning so much that I think it would be unfair for a school to discriminate against someone with an online degree.

  5. Is online faculty any good?

    Yes, I feel like my online faculty does an excellent job teaching. They make sure to offer their students a lot of feedback so that we know we are on track to succeed in their class. If a teacher notices one of us struggling, he will make an effort to refer that student to other resources beyond the textbook.

    In fact, my teachers seem to be very knowledgeable. In each class, they post introductions that tell us about their educational background and their work experience. Nearly all of my teachers have their masters or doctorate degrees. Knowing that my teachers are learned and experienced helps me to trust in the education that Ashford University is providing me.

  6. Are online degrees actually cheaper?

    Based on my experience, I would not say that online degrees are less expensive than a traditional school. I say that because I pay more than $1,000 per class, which is much more expensive than similar classes that our local community college offers. We also have to buy books just like we would if we went to an on-campus school, and those can cost several hundred dollars each. I have heard that some other online schools also charge technology fees in addition to tuition, although luckily, Ashford University doesn’t do that.

    At any rate, my schooling is certainly too expensive to pay for out of pocket, so I am paying for my education through student loans and grants. There are some scholarships available through various service organizations, but at the time that I was applying to Ashford University, I had an exceptionally busy schedule so I didn’t have time to check into them.

    Even though I didn’t do so, I would recommend that people check into every opportunity they can find for scholarships because those can make a very big difference in the amount of student loans you will have to pay back. And if you do have to take out student loans, make sure you are capable of making the loan payments as soon as the first installment comes around, or else your credit will be severely damaged.

  7. Doesn’t the lack of live student-faculty interaction during class detract from the overall learning experience?

    I don’t think the lack of live interaction with teachers detracts from my learning experience because I am more of a visual learner than an audio one. I can absorb information a lot better by reading than I can by listening. For example, I try to stay engaged in a lecture by taking notes, but when I am writing, I feel like I am missing what the professor says next. I end up missing information. That doesn’t happen when I read because I can go at my own pace.

    But I do think the lack of face to face contact with my professors is a negative aspect of online school. Occasionally I find myself in a situation where I need help right away, but all I can do is e-mail my teachers. That means I am forced to wait until my professor responds to my query, which can take 24 hours. The turnaround time for responses can hold me up and then I don’t get my work in on time.

    I would advise online students not to wait to ask for help, because if they do, they will quickly get behind. If a student has a question, they should immediately attempt to get in touch with their teacher so that they won’t miss a deadline if they have to wait a full day for an answer.

  8. How do online classrooms work?

    My online classroom is highly organized since we have so many assignments due each week. Each time we log in to class, we can see what day it is and when our assignments for the week are due.

    The kinds of homework we are required to complete are very similar to a traditional campus in that we also usually have at least 1 paper due each week. We also occasionally have quizzes or multiple choice tests. The only style of homework that I didn’t feel prepared for at first was the discussion posts. We have to write several discussion posts each week, which is how the professor monitors participation. Now that I am used to the discussion board format, I it is a good was to foster communication and debate within my classes.

  9. How computer savvy do you have to be to study online?

    Online school doesn’t require you to be particularly computer savvy. You should have some basic computer skills like how to use Google in order to conduct research. You should also be able to use a word processing program to create documents. But overall, you don’t need to be a computer whiz. If you feel like you need help getting up to speed on basic skills, you can always check out the local work force center, because they usually offer free or low-cost computer classes.

  10. Can you make friends in an online school setting?

    I think you can make friends online, but you do have to put in the effort. Ashford University tries to facilitate networking between students through a portal called the Ashford Café, which is a chat area where students can log in and find study partners or discuss personal matters in a low-pressure setting. In fact, I have met a few people through the café and we get together on Facebook to help each other study. So I would advise online students to utilize features like that to reach out to classmates.

Get to know Cynthia

Concentration
Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
Expected Graduation
2014
Total Time Enrolled
2 years
Age
44

Biography

Cynthia Palmer is in her sophomore year at Ashford University. She is studying to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education through online schooling. After she graduates, she hopes to find a job teaching preschool or kindergarten.

Cynthia chose to study online because of her demanding and variable work schedule. Online school allows her to work full time and study at her own pace.